What am I shelling out for in an egg?

It’s April 2, 2020…and we are in the middle of a global pandemic.  Hopefully, in a few months, the coronavirus will be an afterthought; but for now, it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  Here in Central Iowa, schools have closed and parents are learning how to manage to work from home while homeschooling their children.  For me, it’s also a time to learn.

I recently went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread.  After stopping at three stores I finally broke down and shelled out $6 for a loaf that lasted less than a week.  Bread maker, here I come!  But the trend started happening to me more and more.  I wanted to buy eggs but the generic brand I usually buy was sold out meaning I either went from store to store…or shelled (pun intended) out way too much for eggs.  I had no clue how many types of eggs there are and why the price varied.  So…I set to find out.  And now, sharing with you.  Because honestly; how are we suppose to understand what makes a good egg?

Cage Free:

I’m assuming this is what I normally purchase

The hens live in an enclosure all the time, with space for nesting and resting and are free to move around during the laying cycle.  Space can be crowded, and the hens do not have access to outdoors.

Free Range:

The hens live cage-free and have constant access to the outdoors.  Except, there are no standards for the kind of outdoor space or the amount of time spent outdoors.

Pasture-Raised:

The hens have access to the outdoors, eating a natural diet of bugs and plants, in addition, to feed, and have access to an enclosure.  Make sure to look for the humane certification to guarantee the farm has been verified by a third party; as the USDA does not regulate how this term is used.

Organic:

The hens’ feed has met the certification as being grown without the use of pesticides, non-natural fertilizers, lack of antibiotics or growth hormones, sewage by-product, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. 

Humane:

The hens are raised according to animal welfare standards and third-party certifications.  These hens may be living in a larger cage; but it cannot be guaranteed they are cage-free, free-range, or pasture-raised certified.

Hormone-free:

US federal law requires hens be raised without supplemental hormones, so eggs are “hormone-free” whether or not it says on the label

Natural:


Minimally processed with artificial ingredients. 

Enriches with Omega-3:

The hens are fed a diet enhanced with omega-3 fatty acids from a source like flax seed to boost the omega-3 count from the average 30mg to a range of 100 and 600mg

So…do they taste different?

From my research..

 HAPPIER HEN = TASTIER EGGS!

What about the color?

Growing up in rural Iowa, I can tell you many times the color of the egg is only different because of the type of hen that lays the egg.  If a brown hen lays the egg; it’s more than likely going to be a brown egg.  If a white hen lays the egg; it’s more than likely going to be a white egg.

According to an article from Better Homes & Gardens, the color of the egg doesn’t show the quality or nutritional value; but hens that lay brown eggs are usually larger and need more food.  Thus, brown eggs tend to be more expensive. 

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